WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLBT) - Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, both of Miss., announced that their Bridge Investment Act has been included in the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a five-year surface transportation authorization bill passed unanimously out of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on Tuesday.
The senators’ proposal would designate $3.265 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for a competitive grant program to repair and replace deficient and outdated bridges for fiscal years 2021 through 2025. The proposal would also authorize an additional $3.265 billion to be appropriated for the same period.
Senator Wicker serves as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“Many of Mississippi’s bridges were built decades ago and are in need of major repairs. This problem also exists across the nation. I sponsored the Bridge Investment Act to provide support for rebuilding and repairing structurally-deficient bridges," he said Wicker. “With a competitive federal grant program specifically designed for bridges, states like Mississippi would be able to access much-needed resources to complete these capital-intensive projects.”
“Mississippi would benefit from a federal grant program specifically for bridge repairs and replacements," added Senator Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Committee acceptance of this bridge proposal is a good sign that we can move forward with a strong infrastructure package. This bipartisan authorization certainly complements the FY2019 appropriations set aside to fund a bridge replacement and rehabilitation program.”
A report in April found that even though more than 47,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient and in need of urgent repairs, the pace of bridge repair has slowed. The report, released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, estimates it would take more than 80 years to repair the thousands of structurally-deficient bridges in the U.S. at the current pace.
As part of the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, the Bridge Investment Act would: require all projects funded by the grants use American-made steel and iron; ensure infrastructure legislation would provide support to rehabilitate or replace bridges of all sizes, including, large nationally-significant bridges; create a new evaluation process for proposed projects to ensure the fair and efficient allocation of federal funding and allow applicants to bundle medium and small projects into a single application to accelerate repairs.